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FAQs on Butterflyfishes for Aiptasia et al. Anemone Control

Related FAQs: Aiptasia/Glass Anemones in General, Aiptasia Identification, Eradication by: Berghia Nudibranchs, Peppermint Shrimp, Filefishes, Chemical Injection, Hypo/Hyper-Salinity, Chelmon Butterflyfishes

Related Articles: Impressions of Methods to Eliminate Pest Anemones by Steven Pro, Aquarium Culture of the Aeolid Nudibranch Berghia, Predator on the nuisance anemone Aiptasia By Anthony Calfo, Anemones, Cnidarians

Mainly Raccoons, Chelmons...

New Print and eBook on Amazon:  

Anemone Success
Doing what it takes to keep Anemones healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Bad Aiptasia Problem -Klein’s Butterfly… Reef Safe? – 01/28/13
Hello, and thank you in advance for your help.
<<Hey Brian…is my pleasure to assist>>
I have a 120g mixed reef. Mostly LPS with a few SPS corals. No clams. I have a very bad Aiptasia problem
<<Not uncommon…and seems even more prevalent around my area of late…perhaps something to do with the quality/source of live rock available>>
and using chemicals seems to make them reproduce even faster.
<<I have experienced good results with Aiptasia-X…but it is a continual battle that can never (in my opinion) be won to the point of extinction.  Much better to introduce an effective biological control to keep this pest anemone “in check”>>
My LFS said to get a Klein’s butterfly since my wrasses and Marine Beta ate all the peppermint shrimp I tried.
<<Peppermints are of dubious worth as an Aiptasia control, in my experience>>
I'm most worried about the butterfly picking on my Scolys, Chalices, Candies, several Yumas, Ricordeas, Flower Anemones and Euphyllias.
<<This is the reality…but I find that keeping fishes well fed limits this behavior on those species that can/will accept prepared foodstuffs.  A safer bet might be a Copperband (Chelmon rostratus).  I use these for Aiptasia control (and have for years and years) and have never had an issue with them bothering sessile neighbors to their detriment.  I’ve heard horror stories from others and maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I think my success has much to do with the fact that I feed my fishes very well…and yet the Copperband keeps my display tank Aiptasia free…or at least I never see any.  And I do know they are there, as evidenced by my refugium…or any time my display tank has gone “without” a Copperband>>
What also worries me is that this is an established tank that I don't want to run the risk of bringing disease into.
<<A good dip/quarantine protocol (see WWM re) will help with this>>
I have a large Purple Tang, Hippo Tang, Marine Beta, Melanurus Wrasse, Mystery Wrasse, Black Onyx Snowflake Clown and several Chromis. Do you see the Klein’s being a problem?
<<I can provide no definitive answer here, but I think there are ways to swing the odds in your favor as mentioned.  You will have to weigh your issues with the Aiptasia versus the risk of introducing the Butterfly to your system…though based on my own experiences, I feel a ‘Copperband’ to be a worthy trial of lessoned risk if adequate feedings are offered>>
I've read mixed reviews.
<<As on most anything here/within the hobby>>
I'm at the point where I need to do something but not sure what.
<<Then if it were me...I would try either butterfly…with the CB being my first choice>>
I've also tried breaking down the whole tank and working on each individual rock to get rid of them which didn't work
<<Nope…In my opinion…once you have them, short of nuking (bleaching) the entire system, you will “always” have them>>
 and is too time consuming.
 Thanks again.
<<Happy to share…  Eric Russell>> 

Re: Aiptasia Anemone issues; bad C. lunula    2/9/12
After much thought I broke down and purchased a Chaetodon lunula. After quarantine I introduced him into the main display along with 3 reef Chromis to hopefully prevent too much aggression from the resident fish. Here is the one week update.
The C. Lunula has eaten every tube worm and fan worm it could find but has not yet picked on any of the Aiptasia (or the three BTA's). The cinnamon clown fish became even more territorial and began excessive sand excavation which irritated the Trachyphyllia located nearby. This seemed to attract the attention of the c.lunula who has now eaten a portion of the Trachyphyllia.
a) Can I save the Trachyphyllia? (5 years old and quite large)
<Cover it w/ a plastic colander, strawberry basket or such>
b) How much longer should I keep the c. lunula before coming to the conclusion that this particular specimen does not like Aiptasia?
<A week or two>
It is beginning to show interest in the Acanthastrea located at the other end of the tank though it hasn't touched any of the Palythoa, star polyps, or mushroom corals (I thought those were preferred).
<Mmm, usually just LPS>
The c. lunula is also feeding with the other fish on frozen foods though it has shown no interest in the flake or pelleted foods. I am seriously considering a tank break down at this point though a 7 year old 125 will be a more than one day project.
<But likely satisfying. Bob Fenner>

Aiptasia and Butterfly Fish 11/3/11
I have read through a lot of the FAQs on Butterflyfishes for Aiptasia et al. Anemone Control and am after a good (least risky) candidate for my tank.
I have a pretty serious Aiptasia problem that I hoped would never get out of control. However I also have some LPS an elegance, torch coral, candy cane, long tentacle plate coral a few leathers and mushrooms. What would be the best candidate besides a Copperband not liking the difficulty level associated with this fish with the corals I have tankmates are yellow tang 2 hippos lionfish and a clarkii clownfish. Not wanting to lose any of the LPS for sure.
<My bet/guess is on a Chaetodon lunula. Bob Fenner>
Jeremy Wright

A Matter Of Choice (Which Butterfly For Aiptasia Control?) -- 09/15/11
Dear WWM,
Thanks for all the great advice in the past.
<<Welcome, I'm sure'¦>>
I have a question for you.
I have 3 reef tanks, 100 gallons, 80 gallons and 60 gallons. Amazing how they grow on you.
<<Yes indeed>>
I live in Southern California and last week we had a 16 hour blackout.
<<Uh-oh'¦ Perhaps an investment in a small generator for such contingencies would be worthwhile. Can be/is a small investment by comparison>>
I lost no corals but lost the Klein butterfly fish in each tank used for Aiptasia control. I have read your articles about the Klein, Copperband and Raccoon butterfly fishes used to control Aiptasia on your website. The Klein butterfly fish occasionally picked on the soft corals. Would you recommend one of these fishes over the other for being less aggressive toward picking on my corals and controlling the Aiptasia?
<<Yes'¦the Copperband. These fish have rarely proven to be a problem re picking at corals if kept well fed on frozen Mysis, Glass or Blood Worms, etc'¦in my experience. And the feedings will not deter the fish from browsing the Aiptasia. Cheers'¦ EricR>>

Chaetodon auriga reef safe?
Chaetodon auriga Aiptasia control and invert compatibility 6/1/11

I have an Aiptasia problem in my tank and was looking through your articles at the Chaetodon auriga fish. Is this reef safe? I can't tell your opinion from the articles. I have soft corals, LPS and SPS. No clams, a cleaner shrimp, tons of hermits and snails. 3 tangs, two tomato clowns all in a 180g. Let me know what
you think.
<<Hello Jeromy, as with many denizens in reef aquaria it really depends on your definition of 'reef safe,' as in what invertebrates make up your reef, but this species isn't very tolerable of most sessile life. The first thing I should note about Chaetodon auriga is that there is no guarantee it will assist in controlling your Aiptasia by feeding on it. Some will, many won't, and in my own experience and speaking with other aquarists, many anecdotes would point to other Chaetodontids being a much better choice in this area. It will definitely eat and nip at all of your tube worms and feather dusters (if you purposely house these) as well as have a large effect on your Polychaetes and other epifauna populations. This particular species also includes the polyps of many hermatypic corals in it's diet (your SPS), I have also personally seen them feed on Euphylliids (your LPS) in captivity. I have seen them in some mixed-reef set-ups but these were very large aquariums with lots of growth in which some nipping/predation would likely go unnoticed but in typically sized tanks it would be a problem. As for the article by Bob you mentioned, here is a direct quote I pulled from it, 'Reciprocally Chaetodon auriga "live and let live" with the excepting of edible non-vertebrates; they are definitely not for reef set-ups.' - Bob Fenner. Here is the article again for reference; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/auriga.htm .>>
<<Adam Jackson.>>
Re: Chaetodon auriga Aiptasia control and invert compatibility 6/1/11
Would a Copperband be better or the bristletail filefish for Aiptasia? Would you recommend the Auriga?
<<Hi again Jeromy, here is our article on WetWebMedia by Bob F regarding Aiptasia control, including biological control (fish and otherwise) that I think you should read (also the related FAQ's too);
Here are a few others as well;
As far as the purchase of a C. Auriga, I honestly think the percentages of it predating on your sessile invertebrates is likely higher than that of it eating your pest anemones, if not then they are definitely close to being equal. I would read the above and that should help you weigh which type of biological control, if any, best suits you. Also be sure to monitor your nutrient and dissolved organic levels as an abundance of these could/will lead to the proliferation of your pest anemones as well as other problems. Good luck!
-Adam J.>>

Aiptasia control 5/26/2011
Hi guys, sorry to bother you but I am, after a lot of research and trying different methods of eradication at a loss as to what I can do to get shot of the hundreds
<Biological controls if this many>
of Aiptasia in my tank. My tank is 75g with a 28g sump/fuge and about 40kg of LR, I have a pair of Ocellaris clowns, a scooter Blenny, Chevron Tang, Banana Wrasse, Royal Gramma and a Bicolor Blenny and my new suntail gobies.
<Mmm, not much room>
It's all coming together nicely except for one thing. There are literally hundreds of Aiptasia on the rocks and are stinging my clams and coco worm.
I've tried Aiptasia X and all that happens is, I burn the little nems and they throw out a load of new ones that get into places that I cannot reach.
I also have 3 peppermint shrimps which are ineffective. I have also read that bob thinks that these are not reef safe. I have evicted my Chevron tang in order to try a Copperband butterfly (Chelmon Rostratus) after my last attempt resulted in my chevron attacking him at every given opportunity.( he went back to my LFS before he was killed) Someone has suggested a Bristletail Filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus) and at present I am at a loss. I know that both will attack my Zoas and feather dusters once they have finished the Aiptasia if indeed they do get rid of them but I can put these in my sump for the short term. What would you recommend?????
<A Chaetodon lunula>
There is so much conflicting information out there. I really just want my tank to be free of these things as I want to put some more sps corals in and the only room is covered in the things.
Kind Regards Neil
<Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: stocking reef, Aiptasia contr. BFs    1/21/11
Thanks again for steering us away from Chaetodon trichrous. Bluezoo classified it as "intermediate" in care level, but they also classify the Copperband butterfly fish as "intermediate" and I know how touchy they are!
We are all set to order Chaetodon auriga, but are waiting for the latest wintery storm to pass for safer delivery. I have one last question that is probably ridiculous, but I had to check. Could we put 2 Aurigas in the 250 gallon?
<You could...>
Your article says only if collected together, but several question and answers say it's fine. I have a feeling that it is a big no, but wanted to check with you. We have a LOT of Aiptasia and wonder if one little fish can manage.
<Oh, one could... I'd get another Chaetodontid rather than two Threadfins... Likely a lunula/Raccoon>
The size options for the Auriga from Bluezoo were 1 1/2 to 3 inches or 3 to 5 inches.
<Mmm... three inches... not under two overall length>
We will order the smaller per your suggestion last e-mail.
Thanks again for the advice and hope I didn't push the envelope asking about 2 together!
I think I saw in a recent daily question you were diving in Cozumel.
Hubby and I are jealous...favorite vacation and dive spot.
<Ahh again! Am back, but headed al sur again to this island the end of next mo. w/ some other friends. BobF> 
Re: stocking reef, C. auriga / Aiptasia contr.    2/26/11

We purchased the small Chaetodon auriga at your suggestion for our horrible Aiptasia problem. We have been fighting the Aiptasia for at least two years and all of our live rock, the back wall, and some of the corals were covered with them. Some were as big as an inch plus in diameter. There were probably 3 or 4 Aiptasia on every square inch of live rock.
Three weeks after adding the Butterflyfish, they are gone!
We can not find one single Aiptasia anywhere. We are thrilled! The fish is eating commercial food, so I hope s/he continues to survive with the Aiptasia gone, but I can't tell you how amazed we are that this 3 inch fish cleaned out the tank in less than three weeks!
<Heeee! Oh, if only donuts were made of mostly water. Wait, beers are!!>
Thanks again
for all the help and for the suggestion.
<Thank you for this follow up report. BobF>

Aiptasia Gone!!!   11/20/10
Hi Bob & crew,
<Hey Edith>
Success at last!
Like everyone else, I have been fighting a mostly losing battle with Aiptasia in my 90 g. FOWLR + shrimp, snails, polyps. A couple weeks ago I introduced a Klein butterfly and two skunk cleaner shrimp to replace the one who died.
Within a couple days, ALL the Aiptasia had disappeared. I don't know who ate them, but I am guessing it was BF. I know other butterflies will kill that pest, but I haven't read anything about Klein butterflies (Chaetodon kleini).
<One of my fave Chaetodontid species>
Just wanted to share the good news!
<Thank you. BobF>

Raccoon Butterfly: Aiptasia Solution'¦Compatible With Tangs? -- 09/29/10
<<Howdy Bruce>>
I have spent hours reading your posts on Aiptasia control. I think you¹ve convinced me to try a Raccoon Butterfly to solve my problem.
I have a 125-gallon tank with both SPS and LPS corals.
<<Some risk here -- as you likely know>>
The fish in the tank are a Sailfin Tang (5 inch), Purple Tang (3 inch), Yellow Tang (3 inch), 2 baby Hippo Tangs (2 inches each) ­ I know I¹ll have to remove them later when they are larger
<<Now would be best -- before issues arise from just 'growing up' in a too small/too cramped environment. You also need to make some room for the Butterfly you propose to introduce>>
­ 2 Percula Clowns, a Flame Hawkfish, a Sixline Wrasse, Talbot Damsel, and Yellowtail Damsel. All corals and fish are healthy and getting along well, but recently an outbreak of Aiptasia occurred ­ dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of them.
<<Seems very common these days>>
I tried applying Aiptasia-X; thought it worked, but the Aiptasia came roaring back 2 weeks later.
<<This and any other such product is not a panacea. In my experience, controlling this pest anemone (you will never be truly rid of it, short of 'nuking' the tank and rock) requires the application of something like the Aiptasia-X product to reduce numbers (and it works very well for this as you noted) along with a biological predator to 'keep these numbers reduced' (else the pest anemone recovers very quickly, as you also noted). For me, this is the use of the Red Sea product along with employing a Copperband Butterfly. The Copperband is touted a being slightly more 'reef-safe' than the Raccoon, while the Raccoon is touted as being slightly more 'effective at Aiptasia control' than the Copperband>>
I¹ve cut back on feeding,
<<A mistake, in my opinion'¦ You're not likely having much effect on the Aiptasia - and to the detriment of your 'desirable' biota>>
tried peppermint shrimp, too.
<<Mmm, yes -- about the least effective of biological controls, in my opinion>>
But, like others who posted comments, these efforts failed also.
My question is whether introducing a Raccoon butterfly is even compatible with the tangs?
<<It is, in my experience. There may be some 'jostling' for supremacy among the piscine pecking order, but this should settle down before too much time passes. The bigger issue is making some 'room' for this fish -- along with securing a healthy specimen that is eating (don't rely on a fish that doesn't eat at the LFS to subsist, or even begin feeding upon, your Aiptasia)>>
I know that is probably having too many fish in the tank; I¹ve considered trading in my Sailfin even though it is such a great fish.
<<This also gets too big for your system, yes -- but I would remove the two Hippos first -- and ahead of introducing the Butterfly>>
But, the Aiptasia is out of control, and I need to try something.
<<Okay'¦ But do adjust your stocking density accordingly -- let's not create new/bigger issues here>>
Do you think the Raccoon butterfly would stand a chance?
<<I do, with caveats as stated. And if it manages to stay away from your more desirable inverts, will prove to be an attractive and interesting addition to your display>>
Kind regards,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Enriched Aiptasia for Chelmon Rostratus?  6/7/10
Dear Neptune and posse,
I have searched WWM and the web for "enriched Aiptasia" and not found anything quite like what I am seeking; forgive me if this is covered here already.
<Have never heard of these two words together>
I have a 75 gallon reef tank with a 29 gallon sump and a 20 gallon 'fuge/surge tank. Having accepted the presence of some Aiptasia as a given, I decided early on to keep a Copperband butterfly to control populations of the pest anemones and hope for the best wrt possible problems with corals.
The system is now about 7 months old (seeded/initially stocked with animals from a previous chain-of-nanos system) and the butterfly has been here just about as long. Apart from an early bout with what appeared to be a minor case of Lymphocystis, there have been no problems with keeping the butterfly in apparent good health. He eats nothing but live food (I was not hardcore about trying to train him onto prepared while in QT)--mostly
Aiptasia, pods, and various worms when he can get them. He has shown no interest (that I'm aware of) in any of my corals (softies, LPS and SPS) or Zoas. He also shows no interest at all in any food that is not live--and regular foods include frozen Mysis, bloodworms and glassworms, brine, krill, etc.. There are plenty of other fish in the tank. I figure he'll learn to eat this stuff by watching the others do it if food ever becomes a real problem for him. My system generates quite a bit of live food.
So much food, in fact, that about a month and a half ago I decided I was ready to add a spotted mandarin to the mix. I was slightly concerned that the butterfly might make food scarce for the mandarin, so I watched carefully for weight gain in the mandarin (this is my second one--the first was fat and healthy and lost in a jumping incident).
<Quite common>
After a few weeks I concluded that the mandarin was actually the stronger competitor for available pods in the system--probably because the mandarin seems to be able to pick up smaller pods, thereby depleting the number of
larger pods available for the butterfly. The mandarin got fat, and the butterfly doesn't appear to be suffering, but.......
Maybe it's just me, but my CB hasn't grown quite as much as I would have expected by now. It's grown maybe 1 to 1.5 inches to its present 4.5 inches or so in the time I've had it. That seems small to me for a fish that can grow to nearly 8 inches. Is it small, or does this sound like normal growth?
<Could well be "normal" per the conditions presented, that it exists in>
You and others always recommend enriching CB food with Selcon, but I can't do that with this guy because he won't touch frozen food.
<Might do so if made more palatable...>
To make sure he gets enough to eat, I've been rotating rocks out of the other vessels to a spot in the DT where he knows I put fresh rock for him.
He goes after the worms, then the pods and Aiptasia. I worried about nutrition in his diet before, but now the presence of the mandarin has possibly made the range of his diet even narrower (thankfully the mandarin eats frozen bloodworms with gusto and also the live BBS I regularly feed).
So today I tried a crazy idea. I target-fed Selcon to the Aiptasia on a rock in the surge tank, then dropped it in the DT for the CB. He ate them all as usual. Mission accomplished? Will this work the way I intend it to?
<May well do so>
I can't believe I'm the first to think of this (I seem to get this feeling a lot), but I can't find anything written on this specific idea. Sorry for the lengthy email, I've tried to stay on-point.
<No worries>
Thanks as always for your priceless (literally!) service here. I can't imagine attempting all I've achieved with this system without the guidance of this site.
<Thank you for sharing your observations, experience so well. Bob Fenner>

Copperband and Mandarin Compatibility -- 03/20/10
Hi WWM Crew,
<<Greetings Steve>>
I looked over your web site and could not find a specific answer to my question, so here goes. First off, my set up (main tank) is a 120g Oceanic with dual over flows down to my 55g refugium. The main tank has about 4" sand bed CaribSea and 140# Vanuatu LR, lighting is 150 W MH/T5 and blue and white LED. The system has been up for 1 yr now with no issues. The fuge has about 6" sand bed crushed coral and about 100# LR, also housed is my UV/skimmer/200w heater/500gph return pump. The tank is along side a common wall to my garage, so I plumbed all PVC through the wall and into the garage where the refugium is located.
<<Ah, nice'¦having room to easily access the peripherals sure makes maintenance of these easier (I have to get on my knees and work in the very cramped confines below my in-wall system'¦but I digress [grin])>>
Water parameters are perfect, no detection of ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/SG 1.024/79F with heat controlled chiller.
Livestock from beginning of setup: 1 blue tang/1 yellow tang/1 mandarin/2 Anthias
<<The Anthiines are haremic'¦generally groups of three or more are suggested>>
/7 green Chromis/1 clown/1 Pseudochromis/1 neon goby/1 Naso tang
<<This many Tangs; and particularly the 'Blue' and Naso, are going to need bigger quarters to avoid health/social issues further down the road>>
/1 cleaner shrimp/1 peppermint shrimp. The tank has various corals doing quite well along the arches I created with the rock.
I have no anemones.
The tank is thriving with many little creatures/stars and many others that have come out of the rock and that I believe the Mandarin eats.
<<Mmm'¦probably not as diverse a palate as you think. If you watch the Mandarin feed you will notice it likes to 'study' its prey before consuming. As such, any 'fast movers' are in little danger. Harpacticoid Copepods are a favorite'¦along with other benthic organisms slow and/or small enough to catch>>
I never see him eat,
but all fish including him are very healthy and round not skinny.
I feed frozen mixtures (Mysis/emerald entree/pellet/flake etc.).
<<The only thing here the Mandarin 'might' eat would be the frozen Mysis'¦but you should see it doing so if it is. Even in a system as large as yours, and supported by the plankton-producing refugium, it is not unusual for these fish to slowly starve if they won't accept supplemental feedings. But perhaps'¦in this case yours is finding enough natural fare>>
The question: will a Copperband butterfly (if introduced) compete with the food the Mandarin consumes?
<<Not to a large extent directly, in my experience. The Copperband will prefer larger fare like adult Mysis and other similar sized crustaceans (pods) as well as worms too large for the Mandarin (to sometimes include small Bristleworms, and any Feather Dusters you might have). The tiny Harpacticoid Copepods will not be in danger from the Copperband, but its predation on the adults of the other species mentioned may well impact the availability of enough 'juvenile' specimens to supplement the Mandarin's diet. And like the Mandarin, if the Copperband can't find enough natural food stuffs (unlikely to do so in the long term), and doesn't accept supplemental feedings (many don't), it too will slowly starve>>
Do they eat the same food?
<<Generally not direct competitors for the natural are available'¦but may impact indirectly as described (as do the Pseudochromis and Goby, already)>>
I'm worried that the Copperband will starve my mandarin.
<<I can't say if the Copperband will 'tip the balance' here re the availability of sufficient food organisms for the Mandarin. But I do think you are at good risk of tipping the balance of the entire system with this addition. As stated, I think you are already 'overstocked' re the Tangs>>
I want him to help with Aiptasia control as well as aesthetics.
<<Newly introduced specimens will often do so at first (but even then only 'small' Aiptasia are usually preferred). But most will eventually stop actively preying upon these pest anemones in captivity. Better to directly attack the problem in my opinion'¦and Aiptasia-x from Red Sea does a great job here. The product is effective (but still no panacea) and very easy to use as 'injection' is not required. Even if you do decide to get the Copperband (hopefully only after thinning out those Tangs [e.g. -- Naso]), I very much suggest you treat as many pest anemones as you can with the Aiptasia-x prior to its introduction to help it in its battle (assuming it even shows interest re)'¦don't worry, there will still be plenty you miss/little ones springing up>>
Thank you,
Steve S.
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Copperband and Mandarin Compatibility, Aiptasia contr. f'  -- 03/26/10

Thank you for the reply, very much appreciated!!
<<Quite welcome Steve>>
I have decided to forgo the butterfly and use Aiptasia-X to control these pesky buggers.
<<Ah'¦wise choice I think. You will find the Aiptasia-X to be extremely easy to apply versus most other similar products. But still, it is no panacea (one does not exist) and will require you to 'keep up' with these pest anemones (i.e. -- don't expect to apply it once and forget about it)'¦but I assure you it is the most effective commercial product of its kind that I have come across in more than 30 years in the hobby and will make these pests at least 'manageable.' Cheers, EricR>>

Aiptasia.. giving up the ghost.. not quite!   3/17/10
<Hi Jerry>
I've finally decided to surrender to the plague. But before I junk the whole 180 gal. tank, I'm considering one last hurrah. I've tried direct injections, Butterfly fish, Nudibranchs, Peppermint Shrimp... Nothing works.
But this I know. They are Anemones and they probably won't like a steady diet of copper.
<They won't..>
The fish shouldn't mind
<They will..>
but I guess I'll lose the inverts.
<You will, assuming that your substrate does not absorb the copper rendering it useless. I would not go this route>
If I don't get rid of the Aiptasia though, eventually they'll be the only inverts left, anyway.
<My fave control for this is the Forcipiger flavissimus Butterfly>
So my question is, will this extreme measure also wipe out the basic biology in my live rock?
<Yes, mostly>
I can re-introduce Xenia, etc. once the copper is cleared,
<Most likely, yes. After a while, with carbon added>
But will I lose the biologic filter in the meantime?
<Yes you will, if you add enough to kill the Aiptasia, which might be quite a lot with a substrate present>
And by the way, can the copper eventually be removed with huge water changes & carbon filtering?
<Yes it can. There is some evidence that a certain amount remains in the system, but after a while (weeks, months) you should be ok>
Does all this sound like the ravings of a beaten aquarist?
<It does Jerry.. I don't know enough about your system and it's inhabitants, but if you really do want to 'go nuclear' then you could consider dropping the salinity over using copper, gradually over a period of weeks so as not to disturb the biological filter too much.. you might have more/ better success this way. This is not something I would do personally as I have battled these with success myself, and do think that with some perseverance you can do the same.. try the Forcipiger.. a great, hardy fish to have.. and peaceful. Reduce feeding, increase skimming.. do you have many, and messy fishes? Reduce these>
<No problem>
Re: Aiptasia.. giving up the ghost.. not quite! -- 03/18/10

<Hi Jerry>
Yet again the WWM crew brings hope to a wet, weary warrior!
<As someone said to me very recently, 'fellow pet-fish sufferer'!>
Thank you very much for your prompt and encouraging reply!
<No problem>
I hate to bang on about it any more than necessary, but is the Longnose Yellow more durable than the Copperband?
<By a long way, yes>
I'm afraid the only Butterfly I've tried was a Copperband and for a while he was doing great, but then started to show signs of stress; (I suspect harassment from a Cinnamon Clown).
<I do have a strong opinion on this subject -- I cannot understand why the Copperband is so often recommended for Aiptasia control when it's survival probabilities are so low. Yes, it is reasonably 'reef safe', but so are a couple of other, more hardy species, the best IMO the Forcipiger. No Butterfly can be guaranteed 'reef safe' though.>
He lasted about 6 or 7 weeks, not long enough to develop an appetite for Aiptasia.
<Actually, this should easily be long enough. More likely it was being harassed, and was just not comfortable.>
I don't have many fish, anymore. Probably not enough, as a matter of fact:
1 Yellow Tang - 2 Cinnamon Clowns
<These could be a problem still, but the Longnose will have a MUCH better chance than the Copperband, as it is able to stick up for itself just fine...get one at about 4 inches (body length) if you can, bigger than the Clowns. Don't forget to quarantine.>
- 1 Royal Gramma - 1 Pyjama Cardinal - that's all I've got left.
The tank is 180 gallons with about 220 # of live
rock and a 3" deep medium grain live sand substrate.
<Six foot 180? You should be ok here>
I've had the system running for about 8 years, so I know there's no guarantees in this hobby, but do you think I should try again with a tougher Butterfly?
<I do, and if you are successful and it eats the anemones, this will quickly become your favourite fish! Trust me, it's a great looker with it's 'Punk hairdo'. I do think, though, that this should also be your last fish here. One of the factors that can encourage more Aiptasia growth is lots of fishes>
It's pretty tough to net anything in there, though I've tried to "harpoon" those Clowns on more than one tipsy evening.
<? I'm not quite with you.. maybe it's too late in the day, maybe I'm getting too old..>
I do appreciate your taking the time to help.
<No problem>
Happy splashing,
<Splish splosh!>

Aiptasia help: Using fish for Aiptasia Control 2/1/2010
<Hi Rick.>
Have a reef tank with Aiptasia problem. Have read that Tahitian Butterfly and Seagrass Filefish may eat these things. Your input on these two fish would be greatly appreciated.
<I cannot speak for the butterfly, but the Bristle-Tail Filefish is a good Aiptasia eater. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filefish.htm >
Out of the 2 which would be a better addition and what else in my reef will they eat ?
<Remember that any fish that eats Aiptasia is likely to at least sample other invertebrates. Have a read here:
and here:
personally, I've had the best luck using Kalkwasser and a syringe. >
thank you

Re: Multi problem HELP!! Please. Aiptasia control; C. lunula use, Bleach nuking  1/8/10
Hi Bob,
I wrote to you last month re my glass anemone problem (email is below). I have used Aiptasia X myself only to notice they didn't go away for very long but seemed to come back full force and then some. I went ahead and made the additional purchase of 5 new Nudibranchs however through a comedy of errors (which wasn't very funny) they died.
I had thought about getting a Raccoon B/F but now I wonder if its just too bad for this fish to handle.
<Too bad?>
I read your article on Chaetodon lunula which is posted on WWM (thank you for that by the way) on how to make the right choice. I'm supposed to go down to the LFS tomorrow to put a down payment on one as they have agreed to hold the fish for 2 weeks for me to make sure its healthy and eating.
But I'm just not sure.
So I thought I would ask you. My problem here is bad. They are in the refugium on the filters and pumps I can even see them floating around at night. I have increase flow and decreased feedings, changed the water more often, started using different water, purchased peppermint shrimp that did nothing (may be the wrong kind I don't know)
<Quite common>
multiple tries with Aiptasia X (made it worse?)
<I really like/d this product...>
, multiple purchases of Nudibranchs and its still just as bad or even worse.
Can a Raccoon B/F handle this?
<Is worth trying, yes>
I'm going to try to get the bta's out of the tank and rehome them so I might be able to get the Raccoon. I wanted to know how good the Raccoons are at handling this problem.
<Some individuals have proven to be excellent; rarely are there absolute "duds">
Will it enter my tank and go to town like a Tang is with seaweed?
<Heeee! Let's hope>
I promise, I ALWAYS read before I ask a question. And had read the articles you pointed to in the previous email before I emailed you. Your website its kind of like my Fish Bible. I tried looking up bleaching tanks on WWM however many people seem to have bleached corals and anemones so the search became very very tedious. Bless your hearts for all the bleaching going on.
<May change my name to Bobby Clorox>
I was also wondering if the Raccoon will at all bother my skunk cleaner shrimp or sand sifting star?
<Mmm, no... highly unlikely>
Or does the Raccoon only eat the anemones and corals?
<Only rarely corals... and generally leave other, large/r species of Actinarians be>
Other than the Raccoon my only other option at this point would be to bleach the tank. Which wont be fun, but I will do it if that's what needs to be done.
My question is how?
<Remove all desired life... pour enough bleach in (on a sunny day with the windows open)... maybe lower the water level if the system, fuge... are "foaming too much"... after about an hour (when all is very white, nuked), drain and refill a couple times with freshwater... Read here please:
for related input, cautionary statements>
I leave everything in the tank (minus the animals I want to save of course)?
Then what, and how much bleach do I use?
<Mmm, of "stock solution" (about 12-13 % hypochlorite) about a half gallon per hundred gallons or so>
How long do I leave the fish out of the tank?
<Until it's recycled, stable...>
How often do I do water changes and how much water per time? When should I change filter media?
<Which water, media?>
Can you please give me a step by step here on how to handle this situation should that be the course I take.
<See the citation above and elsewhere on WWM re cycling a new system... you'll need some new LR to re-seed all>
Also after everything I have written about my situation which method would you personally use at this point?
<Only as a last resort; though I've done so several times over the years... Including in large facilities with "real troubles">
Thank you for all of your time and help. It is appreciated.
<Welcome! BobF> 

Anemone Eating Butterfly 11/21/09
Hey crew,
I have a 850 gallon reef tank with 1200 pounds of Tonga live rock in it.
It has in the last year become infested with Majano Anemone's. When I say infested I mean there is probably not a 8 inch square in the aquarium that you cannot find one of these little suckers! I have added a couple Klein's butterflies months ago but they are not up to the task of destroying these, they pick at them but much prefer pellets and other foods ( I only feed 2 times a week) I am to the point that I either let them take over the aquarium or I turn loose something that will flat out hunt down and eat every last one. I am not going to let these things take over and destroy my 25,000 dollar "reef" tank. I can remove most of my corals to a different system until they are gone. SO my questions are, what kind of butterfly is (a) hardy (b) will "most likely" eat/prefer these little anemones over something else? I have to do something..I hate looking at my corals getting stung by these things, I spend probably 10 hours a week trying to keep them "under control"...help!
<The problem that could arise here is that a butterfly that would eat the Majanos would likely
eat your coral. I suggest reading here and linked files in the header.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re Anemone Eating Butterfly 11/21/09

Thanks for the speedy reply James,
<You're welcome.>
I understand the butterflies will eat my
coral, I will remove the coral that I can and the rest will have to stay.
I have read the FAQ many times trying to remedy this problem this has been becoming much larger than can be resolved by "normal" means. I at this point have no choice but to introduce an non reef safe butterfly, The question is what one will be the most aggressive anemone eater?
<Some folks have had luck with Raccoon Butterflies, and some not. Will depend on the eating personality of the fish. Another fish some had have good luck with is the Bi-Color Angelfish. I believe it was Eric Borneman who stated that the A. majano is a staple in their diet in the wild.
There are folks who claim the Copperband and Saddleback Butterfly Fish consume Majanos, then
again, some not. As before, all depends on the fishes eating habits/personality. Another method is to inject them with Kalkwasser, but this could take a considerable amount of time, patience, and liquor.>
Thanks again!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

More than one Butterfly in 210 gallons  8/8/09
I have a 210 gallon tank with about 315 pounds if live rock and a HUGE aiptasia infection.
<Interesting descriptor... maybe affliction...>
I tried Berghias but had no luck. About 4 months ago I bought a Copperband Butterfly which has been making a very noticeable impact. I also added 5 Peppermint Shrimp, which I never see, but do occasionally see indications they have molted. A nearby LFS has suggested that I add 2 more butterflies, either 2 Raccoons or a Raccoon and another Copperband until the infestation is gone and then to remove 2 of them.
<Worth trying in my estimation>
They say to add a pair, not one. The only other fish in this tank is a Blackcap Basslet.
I am at the point where the aiptasia is killing most any corals left, so the risk the Butterflies might eat them in no greater than if I have to turn off the lights let the tank go fallow to kill the aiptasia. Do you feel the size of the tank is sufficient to support adding 2 more Butterflies, or would you just wait this out a year or so and see what happens?
<Should be sufficient space here>
Thanks for your highly trusted advice,
<Do please peruse here as well:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Butterflies, Mystery Wrasse, & Aiptasia ? 03/03/09 Hi guys, I have 2 tanks. Both are over 3 years old and very stable. One is a 60 gallon reef system with a mix of corals, a yellow tang, and a monster mystery wrasse. The wrasse is great but he's a brute. He eats just about any & all clean-up crew and inverts. My problem is this tank is now infested by aiptasia. I've tried just about everything to get rid of it. The wrasse attacks any butterfly I put in there and eats any shrimp. So... <... take the Wrasse out while using a/the Butterfly?> My other tank is a 150 gallon reef system with a juvenile emperor angel (that happily eats out my hand), a raccoon butterfly, <Oh! Maybe just switch these two... or "float" the wrasse in a plastic colander...> and a falcula butterfly. They're doing fine too. They've eaten many of the corals in this tank but do seem to leave enough alone (leathers, bubble anemone guarded by a pair of clowns, mushrooms, star polyps, Galaxea) that I'm happy. My question is -- can I safely take a rock at a time from the wrasse's aiptasia infested tank and put it in the angel's / butterfly's tank for clean-up? <Likely so> the last thing I want to do is infest this tank too. How sure can I be that these 3 guys will eat up without letting the aiptasia spread? Is it worth the risk? <IMO/E, yes, worth the risk> Thanks, Kris Hublitz <Welcome Kris. Bob Fenner>
Re: Butterflies, Mystery Wrasse, & Aiptasia ? 03/03/09
Hi Bob, Thanks! I'll give the rock swap a try 1pc at a time and let you know how it goes. Hopefully I end up with clean rock and fat & happy b/f's. <Yes> I really don't even want to try moving fish. I think it's too stressful for them. I'll send you an update next week. Regards, Kris <Thank you Kris. BobF>

Butterfly fish... sel. for Aiptasia control    ? 03/03/09 Hello again WWM crew! I am currently looking after a 90 gallon reef tank while the owner is working out of state. I've been taking care of it for four or five months now. Long story short, it was sadly neglected for several months before that. In that time, what was a small Aiptasia problem blossomed into an out of control outbreak. Many corals were stung to death by the pests, and many more perished from being smothered by red cotton candy algae that feasted on the nutrients released into the water by dying corals, fish and invertebrates (very few water changes were performed, and no skimmer was running at this time). <Yikes... good explanation though> Since I've taken over the maintenance, things have improved some. The algae is more or less under control, water changes occur as often as I can make it over per week. The Aiptasia problem, however, remains. I tried peppermint shrimp, but they went AWOL after a week in the tank. I am wary of Nudibranchs, because I have read they are exceedingly difficult to acclimate and keep from getting eaten. I've fragged what I can into a smaller tank, but the anemones have also made it in there (unfortunate, but not surprising). I keep those at bay using Aiptasia-X, but the large tank is a lost cause for such a method. <Ok> So, on to my question(s)! I've been thinking some about a Butterfly to keep the Aiptasia in check. I am looking at a Copper Banded or a Klein's Butterfly. I've also heard that Raccoon Butterfly's are good at pest control. <All can be employed... I like the Raccoon here> However, I've also read that Butterflies can be easily intimidated, and can eat corals as well. <Is so> Currently there are a mated pair of what I'm pretty sure are Tomato Clowns and a couple Pajama Cardinals. Corals are few: a handful of Montipora sp., some Acanthastrea sp., an open brain, a small Echino and a Euphyllia sp. In your learned opinions, is a Butterfly a viable option in this tank? <Yes> I'd like to keep as many corals as possible intact, and I don't really want to introduce a fish that will get bullied to death. I plan on hooking up a skimmer that the owner has stashed in his fish room, so I can feed more heavily once the Aiptasia supply is depleted. It's a long email to answer two questions, but I know it's worth it to pick your brains. Thank you very much! Owen <If it were me, I'd go with a good sized to start with (maybe about 4" overall length) Raccoon here. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Selection  12/19/08 Hi Guys and Gals <Si> I have made a decision to add a Raccoon butterfly to my 180 reef tank for the control of aiptasia. I have lots of live rock in my QT tank with aiptasia on it that I intend to use to test the fish before introduction during the 2-4 week QT period. My reef is nearly all hard corals, SPS and LPS. The LPS corals are Goniopora, Sinuosa, Duncanopsammia, Euphyllia, Galaxia. SPS are Montipora, Acropora, Porites, Hydnophora, Seriatopora. I also have a Turbinaria coral as well. I have two choices on the raccoon butterfly. I am aware that either, or neither may work both for aiptasia and potential coral/ fish compatibility but the question I have is based on the 'chance' of success. Choice number 1 is a Chaetodon Lunula from the Indian Ocean at two inches (small). Choice number 2 is a stunning Chaetodon Fasciatus from the Red Sea at five inches (largish). This is an extremely beautiful fish. <Mmm, am very partial to the Red Sea endemic myself...> Both are feeding well, on mysis. The only potential troublemakers territory-wise in my reef are the Emperor Angel (6 inches) and Flame Angel (2 inches). Your advice would be really helpful. Thanks muchly! Si <Should get along with these two Pomacanthids... I'd go with the C. fasciatus. Bob Fenner>
Re: Raccoon Selection  12/19/08
Hello again! Have just re-read my e-mail and the deliberate mistake is the location that the Lunula has come from - It is from Indonesia, NOT the Indian Ocean! <Mmm... have just looked on Fishbase.org re this species distribution: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12274&genusname=Chaetodon&speciesname=fasciatus and it states that C. fasciatus is found only in "Western Indian Ocean; the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden... but the distribution map shows it further into the Eastern I.O.... where I've never encountered it, nor do my print ref.s state that it's found there... Either this fish is a C. lunula (and no problem really), or your source is mistaken somewhere along the line... Or... the least likely possibility, this is news of extended distribution range for this species. BobF> Thanks very much, Si
Re: Raccoon Selection  12/19/08
Hi Bob, <Si, and yes!> Thanks for your recommendation and help!! - I don't think I've stumbled on a new distribution area for the Fasciatus - It was the Lunula that I said was from Indonesia!! <Ahh> My main concern about choosing the larger (Fasciatus) fish over the smaller (Lunula) was that maybe because it has spent more of it's life on the reef, it is more likely to eat the aiptasia, but also more likely to sample my corals as well. Is this true? I have never read this admittedly, but it just seems to make sense. Thanks again, Si <I would definitely (still) select the larger vs. the smaller (2") specimen... much more likely the former will adapt to captive conditions and live. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Raccoon Selection 12/19/08
Have just purchased the larger Fasciatus - thanks very much Bob, it is a very beautiful fish! Si <Ahh! B>
Re: Raccoon Selection    1/17/09
Hi Bob, <Simon> Just like to give you an update on the Raccoon Butterfly and how it has worked out so far! <Ah, good> The fish was quarantined for three weeks with some live rock that had various corallimorphs, Zoanthids and of course lots of Aiptasia on it! I also bought a Hydnophora and an Acropora, these were QT'd at the same time with the fish. The Butterfly immediately (within 1 minute of introduction!) wolfed down three Aiptasia, so that part was an immediate success. It's very satisfying watching him do it - he sort of 'sucks' them up! He also, however, over the next three weeks ate all of the Discosoma-type corallimorphs in the QT tank (as well as all of the Aiptasia), leaving the Zoanthids, Rhodactis, Acropora and Hydnophora alone. <Ok> I considered this acceptable, since I had already made attempts to remove the many corallimorphs in the past due to their toxicity. As the fish showed no signs other than being extremely healthy, in he went to the ST. Results are, I no longer have an Aiptasia problem (Wahey!). All of my Discosoma (spp) mushrooms have disappeared. He has so far picked on a Galaxia and a Euphyllia so that I have had to remove these corals from the tank (BOOO!!). This is acceptable to me so far, as he is such a beautiful fish, but whether he remains a long term resident does depend on how far his coral-munching goes in the future. Cheers, Simon Trippick <Thank you for your valuable first-hand observations. Will post, share. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Aiptasia, BF control 8/18/08 One additional question... Your posted article on aiptasia control lists a number of B/Fs for the job. Some places also bill the Pearlscale and Saddleback B/Fs as candidates. Would these 2 also do the job if needed? <Can, yes> Thanks again for all the great advice. By the way, your site needs to come with an addict's warning. I go looking for one answer in the FAQs and articles and then get sucked in, spending hours learning more and more. Great stuff. Sean <Welcome! BobF>

Raccoon butterfly with a trigger  6/4/08 Hello Crew, <Hello!> I was wondering if I could possibly add a raccoon butterfly into my 75gal, which is currently having an outbreak of aiptasia. At first, I thought it was like getting a free gift, but a few days later my eel died, so I assumed the anemones stung him. My tank includes an Indian trigger, and a maroon clown. <Did the eel have significant burn marks along its body? If they were lacking, as I suspect, this was a water-quality related death. You've got some very large fish in a not-so-large tank. For this reason alone I would not add the butterfly...would only increase the overcrowding. Diet-based controls like this are also of limited success: Not all individuals will consume aiptasia.> I only am asking this because my dad wants to go and try to scrub all the rocks and want to save him the trouble. <Scrubbing will likely only multiply the problem. Please read re aiptasia control here on wetwebmedia.com for viable solutions. Also, remember that this raccoon butterfly is a living thing, not a vacuum cleaner. It deserves respect and thoughtful housing- not to just be thrown in to a tank in hopes of it removing a pest. Ultimately, the decline and demise of this fish would be almost inevitable.> Thank you for your help. <No problem; thanks for writing! Benjamin>

Chelmon rostrata in 24 gallon tank for aiptasia control  3/30/08 We have a lot of Aiptasia in our 24 gal nano cube tank. <<Likely a nutrient issue here...as in too many.>> We purchased a Copperband Butterfly fish but it doesn't go after the aiptasia. <<That was not a wise solution to the problem. Most Chelmon rostratus perish within a week or two of captive life, and that?s in larger mature systems, the instability of a nano reef is no place for this animal. Not to mention that the overall adult length is 6?. Regarding your aiptasia problem if they are spreading rapidly, as I mentioned above it is likely a dissolve organics/nutrient issue in which case adding more fish will only fuel the problem.>> Do you have any suggestions on how to get it to eat the Aiptasia? <<This is other issue when using Chelmon rostratus for pest anemone control, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will take to eating the aiptasia. Not to mention that if this is a nano reef with other cnidarians, the butterfly is just as likely to start preying on them as well. The few success stories I have seen with this involved quarantining the fish first and introducing normal food fare along with aiptasia to test said animal before adding it to the display. My suggestion would be to remove the fish ASAP and then read this; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i3/aiptasia_impressions/aiptaisia_impressions.htm.>> Thanks, <<Welcome.>> Joanne <<Adam J.>>

Copperband Butterfly/Aiptasia Result And Question ? 02/15/08 Hello "crew", hope all is well. <<Fine?thanks>> I have "spoken" to you before, and had brilliant help each time. <<Ah good!>> I am Janie (in Australia). <<Hey Janie! Eric here?in South Carolina>> I have a 285 Litre tank, one Spiny Puffer ("Puffy"), <<Mmm, if this is Diodon holocanthus this tank (75g US) is ?much too small.? This fish will need a system of several hundred gallons or more (800-1000 Litres) for its long term well-being>> one Copperband Butterfly ("Coppy") and the odd "worm" and little hermit crab. <<Really?? Worms with the Copperband around?? Mine has feasted on all the worms it can find. It will even take on the odd bristleworm when given the chance>> I last wrote to you because my tank had been over-run by Aiptasia, after my original tank cracked, was replaced, re-setup, stocked up with live rock etc. <<Okay>> The Aiptasia came with the rock, flourished and killed all bar one Leather Coral, "starved out" my Tropheus snails and Stromp snails, grew inside my baby Clam and killed it, etc. <<Yikes?a bad infestation indeed!>> Your Site led me to acquire a Copperband Butterfly (having tried absolutely everything else to no effect). "Coppy" is brilliant! In 12 weeks or so he has eaten "every" Aiptasia in the tank, and believe me, by the time I managed to buy Coppy, my whole tank, all of every surface, and the sand were totally covered by aiptasia! <<I?m glad to hear the Butterfly has worked out?am sure you are aware this is not always the case>> Now I cannot see even one, not even a baby one! <<Yay!>> My question is; Even though I have 50 or 60 pounds of live (now "clean") rock, Coppy doesn't seem to be eating. <<Mmm, yes?has been accustomed to finding live natural foods>> I researched your Site, and I am offering him appropriate foods, <<Such as?>> in a now "pristine" environment, but Coppy seems to prefer to do what appears to be "sucking something from the surface" of the water. <<Hmm?not a ?natural? behavior for this fish as far as I am aware>> My Prizm Protein Skimmer is pulling protein out happily as always, <<If you say so [grin]>> and my water testing is showing excellent water, in a system now several years old, so I am not sure if I should be worried or not. <<Mmm, well?the rock/available fauna in a system of this size will not likely be enough to sustain this fish?best to get it eating prepared offerings>> Coppy still picks at the rocks, the sand, and the algae on the glass etc, <<Not the ?algae??not a part of this species diet>> but doesn't eat Nori, veggie, brine shrimp or anything else offered. <<These fish can be quite finicky? I have one that can even differentiate/will refuse differing brands of Mysis Shrimp! But, I have found frozen glassworms (white mosquito larvae) will often entice these and most any other finicky feeder. Do give them a try>> He is "happy", not at all shy, and is "best mates" with Puffy, but I am worried that he is not getting enough nutrition to sustain him. <<Me too>> I haven't seen him poo for a week (but Puffy certainly has), so I am wondering what this "sucking at the surface" is all about? <<Dunno?does seem kind of odd>> I have gleaned from this Site that I can buy (hopefully...in Australia) food products especially for Butterflies, and I will do so promptly, <<?This? Butterfly needs small meaty fare like the Mysis and Mosquito Larvae. Hikari?s frozen Ocean Plankton and Mega Marine are also worth trying>> but ...what is this "sucking at the surface" all about? <<Beats me, mate?Bob?>><Mmm, looking for more food from you likely. RMF> At this point I have to say THANK YOU for the advice available on your Site. <<A collective effort>> Without it I would not have Coppy (or probably still have Puffy, who kept getting stung on his eyes, and could find nowhere to sleep without encountering Aiptasia) and I would still have a miserable, over-run tank. I just don't want Coppy to starve to death as a result of his absolutely brilliant cleanup of Aiptasia. Having spent three hours on your Site today, again I have learned, and I am eternally grateful for the info that led me to buy Coppy and get rid of the Aiptasia...I know it is "hit and miss" as to a particular fish doing the job or not, but Coppy certainly did and I thank you for that. <<Sounds like you scored big with this particular fish>> I am about to replace my killed-off "clean-up crew", but I want to know Coppy is O.K first. Thank you, and best wishes, Janie <<Do give the glassworms a try?bloodworms too. EricR>>

Re: Seahorse in refugium, and now Aiptasia contr.  -11/27/2007 Thanks for the quick reply. We have decided, based on your advice, to not use sea horses in the refugium. Instead we will nano tank some dwarf seahorse in a separate tank. <cool> On another note, I have been battling Aiptasia anemone for quite some time to no avail. We got the problem from a friend who tore down his tank and gave me some live rock. Tried Joe's juice, <doesn't work> peppermint shrimp, and even removing bad bits of rock, but just couldn't get ahead of them. <In my experience, you need quite a few peppermint shrimp for this method to work at all...> I was considering a copperband butterflyfish when my LFS recommended a Slender Filefish (Monacanthus tuckeri). We were told he is reef safe, but will be a bit nippy and sample a few things. Sounded similar to the copperband except this guy will eat readily. <Hmmm... I wouldn't put either in a reef thank. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishfish.htm> We got him and he has cleaned almost every Aiptasia in the tank, doesn't seem to bother corals, nips a bit at various worms, <Doesn't mean he won't eventually... but too late now, let's hope he doesn't.> and will happily eat most frozen foods. I wonder why this fish is not mentioned in the control of Aiptasia? <Hmmm, I don't know, but I imagine that (as with most animals) they're not entirely consistent. Yours seems to be quite helpful for Aiptasia and harmless to corals. This might not always be the case for every fish.> I live in the Netherlands and they seem to be common in tanks here, however I rarely see them on American sites. <Thanks for sharing your experience. :-)> Anyway thanks again for the advice/education. Have a great day! <You too, thank you.> Layton <Best, Sara M.>

Aiptasia, Butterfly Borrowing for Removal... ? 03/17/07 Hello, <Hi Sarah!  Mich here.> I e-mailed you again a few weeks ago with an attached picture of an "anemone." You didn't tell me anything because the picture wasn't very clear, which you told me. Well, I took the picture to the saltwater store near my house and it was indeed Aiptasia. <I'm sorry you didn't get the help you were looking for here, but glad you found it somewhere.> The owners of the store are very friendly so, they let me borrow, which seems weird, one of their raccoon butterflies to eat the Aiptasia. <Very generous.> Luckily, I only have live rock, 2 clown fish, hand full of snails, and my Stomatella snail, so I can't imagine this random, short-term fish would really disrupt much. <Oh, yes.> Anyway, I guess I have a couple questions about my situation. I was looking on your website for hours and nothing seemed to directly answer my questions, so I opted for the direct e-mail method. <OK.> First, I had a huge Aiptasia that was close to 3 inches. I do not see it anymore. I've had this raccoon bf for less than 24 hours. I read that they are nocturnal. Now, is it more likely that the fish ate that large Aiptasia, or it was picking at it, causing the Aiptasia to retract back into the rocks? <Either is possible.> There were a few that were half inch loners that are now gone too, but I still see some very tiny ones. <Hopefully not for long.> Second, I was originally going to get Joe's Juice for it, but my dealer, that lent me the butterfly, said in his experience, he'd get rid of one, but because the skin would still be in the rock, it would reproduce. He'd have one Aiptasia, get rid of it, but 5 would show up in its place a week later. <Yes, can happen.> In my research, it seems that the jury is out on how to handle these pests. What I would like to know, is there any way to PREVENT them? <Don't put them in your system to begin with.> I heard that taking the rock out and placing it in boiling water will kill it, along with the entire rock. <Mmm, yep.> Is that really the only way to "guarantee" that they won't come back? <May ways of dealing with these pests.  More here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i3/aiptasia_impressions/aiptaisia_impressions.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aiptasiaantoine.htm  > I have about 3-4 inches of substrate and I read that substrate can house these pests, too. <Possible, but not terribly common.> I'm not planning on keeping the butterfly, seeing as I only have a 55-gallon tank and I want to house corals and anemones down the road.   <Very good.> The dealer said to just return the fish when it's gone, as if this whole situation won't be stressful on the poor fish (sarcasm). <Yes, a generous offer from the LFS, but not sure this was the best option, especially for the fish.> I guess I'm really looking for any information about this, along with my few questions to be answered: 1) Did the fish eat my large Aiptasia this quickly, or did they hide from the fish? <Either is possible.> 2) Prevention of Aiptasia? Try not to introduce to your system and eliminate as soon as noticed. 3) Boiling the rock-is it worth the hassle, or does the Aiptasia still come back? <No point in buying live rock and then boiling it...no longer live.   4) What causes Aiptasia? <Is a living organism, what causes humans? 5) Does prevention mean keeping an Aiptasia eating creature in my tank 24/7? <No.> If so, what would be compatible with snails, clowns, corals, and good anemones... anything? <Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) is commonly used.> 6) Since I'm "borrowing" this fish, should I be feeding it a supplemental diet, in addition to the Aiptasia? <I would keep him relatively hungry in order to do the job, but I think you should offer some foods.  A single item diet is not good for many creatures.> 7) The butterfly's a carnivore type fish, if it's hungry enough will  it eat my clowns-they're about 1 1/2 to 2 inches now? <Unlikely.> 8) Is the butterfly going to eat my Stomatella Snail? <Very well may try.> 9) Will the butterfly find the small tiny Aiptasia now that the large ones are "gone?" <Hopefully, there is a good likelihood.> Thank you so much, in advance, <Welcome.  -Mich> Sarah Bedford

Aiptasia vs. Chelmon testimonial   12/6/06 Good day all. <Greeting to you Pete, Mich here.> This is not a question, it is simply a comment. <Always welcome.> For quite some time I have had a problem with Aiptasia in my reef system. I had unfortunately and carelessly imported some with a piece of live rock.  The rock was a wonderful shape and I could not pass it up. Over the course of a year or so the Aiptasia happily multiplied in my well stocked and well fed tank. <Yep, they do that.> I had tried many chemical and non chemical eradication techniques from injections to peppermint shrimp with no success, until I purchased a large copper banded butterfly fish. <Peppermint shrimp usually have to get pretty hungry before they will go after the Aiptasia.  It's like eating bran flakes when you have other choices.  Aquacultured Berghia Nudibranchs are another    alternative.   They are obligate Aiptasia eaters (i.e. bran flakes and nothing else).   However, without Aiptasia they will quickly starve.>   I was forced to keep him in a separate system due to aggression from my yellow and Naso tangs. I would take whatever rock had an infestation and place it in the other tank with the butterfly. He would scour the rock and I would return it to the main display. Unfortunately the Aiptasia would reproduce faster than I could move the rock. There was also the added problem of not wanting to breakdown all of the reefscape. <Breaking down reefscape... Yep, been there, done that, can be a most trying exercise in frustration.  Understand wanting to avoid it.> I had informed WWM in a previous email that I had found a home for my big Blondie as well as the yellow, the problem had been catching them without destroying my setup. <Yep.> The solution to this came one day after a 2 hour power outage. When the power returned and my HQI lights came back on the fish were so stunned that I was able to pick them up with a gloved hand. They now have a 600 gallon new home. <Sweet!> Now that the main aggressors are out of my display tank, I have moved the butterfly in. Within 5 days he has eaten all of the thousand or so Aiptasia in the system. <Wow! Sweet again!> He seems to have no interest in my corals, clams or sponges. <Going for a sweet trifecta!> I think I have won. <I think you are correct!> This solution, however would not have been needed if I had just been more careful and patient with my original purchase. <Very wise words my friend.> I just wanted to let people know that at least in my situation the copper banded butterfly was a great success. <Thank you for sharing.  It's really nice to hear success stories as many queries do not have happy endings. -Mich> Pete         

Faulty ORP Readings/Copperband for Aiptasia Control - 10/31/06 Hello, and thank you for all the information you provide. <<Howdy, and you're quite welcome...is a synergetic effort>> I have a 125 gallon saltwater reef tank and I am trying to get the Aiptasia under control as well as increase the quality of life for the species I already have.  From my research, I felt that I would try the peppermint shrimp as a way to get the Aiptasia under control and also look at why I have them. <<Mmm...peppermint shrimp are less than reliable controls for Aiptasia anemones, and best utilized "en masse" re which then leaves you with the problem of what to do with all the shrimp once they've completed their intended purpose...not to mention the expense of obtaining several dozen peppermint shrimp>> I read that the 6-line wrasse could eat them so I moved the wrasse to a fish only tank where he is doing fine.  The next day all 3 peppermint shrimp were gone. <<Hmm...though I doubt three shrimp would have had much impact...at least not for a very long while (assuming they would eat the anemones to begin with)>> I watched my sailfin tang and it did not seem interested in them.  I only have fire fish, clowns, and an algae eating goby type fish. <<Mmm...how large is this "goby?">> With this trail ending in failure, I would like to try a copperband butterfly. <<Not easily kept...and also no guarantee it will take to the Aiptasia any better than peppermint shrimp>> I read that they are difficult to keep. <<Ah yes>> I want to make sure that my tank conditions are up to standard before I purchase one.  I use the Aquacontroller Pro to monitor the conductivity, pH, ORP, and temp.  The temperature ranges from 74-78 degrees.  The pH is at 8.28 but does fluctuate from 7.99 to 8.28 within a 24 hour period.  The ORP is the strange reading because I show 572 through 678 in a 24 hour period. <<I think this is likely not an accurate reading.  ORP readings this high would certainly have a deleterious affect on your system>> I test for nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia and they always test at or 0 or very close to the lowest scale on the chart. <<Ammonia/nitrite should "always" be 'zero'.  Do make sure you have fresh/reliable test kits>> I took a water sample to the fish store and he confirmed my readings.  He also tested for phosphate and said it was minimal. <<Whatever his definition of "minimal" is...>> The alkalinity was acceptable but the calcium was low.  I tested the ORP in my filtered tap water through the Kold-Ster-il unit and the ORP showed 100.  I tested the ORP of the tap water with the salt in a bucket and when agitated with the power head would reach up to 180.  I tested the ORP in my fish only tank and it reads 174.  I do not use ozone at all.  I add the alkalinity supplement every other day and then the calcium supplement on the opposite days of the alkalinity supplement.  I contacted Neptune systems and he said the probe and controller are probably correct and working as they should. <<I disagree...an ORP reading of 678 in your reef tank would definitely be mal-affecting your livestock.  Anything over about 450 starts to become dangerous to your tank inhabitants.  You need to obtain a calibration solution and check the probe's accuracy yourself>> I use a sump with an AquaC 180 protein skimmer and this works well. <<A good skimmer line>> I tested the returns and the water flow is 600 gallons per hour.  I do get some green algae growth in the tank but only enough to clean off of the front glass every few days.  What could cause the ORP to be so elevated without adding ozone? <<Ozone injection is not the only way to raise ORP (increased water flow or adding "oxidizers" such as iodine can raise ORP levels), but I think in this instance the culprit is a faulty ORP meter/probe>> Do you think the water quality is acceptable for a copperband butterfly with the ORP reading so high? <<I don't think the ORP is an issue, as I don't think the reading is accurate/that there is any hazard if you are not injecting ozone in this system.  But being successful with the Copperband involves more than good water quality.  You need to have adequate live rock in a "mature" system (preferably augmented with a vegetable refugium) to provide grazing/browsing opportunities for the butterfly.  You also need to find a healthy specimen that is feeding on frozen foods as getting them to eat is a common problem. Once you have an "eating" fish, pay attention that it gets its share. These fish are designed for/adapted to browsing the reef for food and don't compete well with most other fishes when the hobbyist dumps in a meal...they even have trouble seeing/finding foods that are swept along in the current.  Most will eventually learn that they need to "be on the ball" at feeding time, but they will still have problems with the quicker and more agile fishes beating them to the food>> Before purchasing a copperband, like my other fish, I will find one that has been in the store for at least 2 weeks and that is feeding. <<It will behoove you to set up a quarantine tank for this (all) fish to ensure that it is still feeding (without competition) once you bring it home.  I have witnessed on more than one occasion where this fish stopped feeding after the stress of capture/relocation from the LFS>> Thank you everyone for the time you dedicate to helping me as well as many others. Darrell <<Is our pleasure to assist.  EricR>>

Reef butterfly (Chaetodon sedentarius) for Aiptasia control, use period   2/14/06 Hello.  I unfortunately imported some Aiptasia into my system and it is spreading.  Grrrr! <Happens> I have had two sad experiences with copperband butterflies.  They ate the Aiptasia but still starved to death, as neither would take any of the varied foods I offered. I hate to try one again. I was in a very good LFS here that has a great reputation.  One of the staff there who has not led me astray in the past recommended the Caribbean Reef Butterfly (sedentarius) as a voracious consumer of Aiptasia (he showed me this in the store, putting a rock covered in it in the holding tank with several of these fish in there. <Do eat them> Also claimed they leave corals alone if fed even reasonably well, <Variable... by individual... and changeable...> that they readily take frozen and even flake foods, that they get along with other fish and are among the heartiest of the butterflies. <I don't agree with this. Unfortunately it has been... Let me start again: It has been my unfortunate experience that all species of TWA, tropical West Atlantic chaetodonts do poorly in "hobbyist settings"> The only thing he didn't say was that the fish would also increase my salary by 40%. <Heeeee!> How reliable is this information?  For some reason I'm hesitant and can find next to nothing in Google on this fish. Thanks. Joel <See the works of Allen and Steene as well here... sedentarius does not historically do well in captivity. There are other means of Glass Anemone control... Please see WWM re... that I would utilize before this B/F. Bob Fenner>

Raccoon Butterfly for Aiptasia control part 2 12/4/05 Hi Adam. Thanks for the help. Does it matter which species of Raccoon Butterfly Fish for munching Aiptasia. One local dealer has a nice adult Red Sea one Chaetodon fasciatus), and the other species (Chaetodon lunula), but younger. Thanks, Bill  <If the fish both look healthy, I would go for the Red Sea fish unless it is very large (larger than your hand). Best Regards. AdamC.>

Raccoon Butterfly for Aiptasia control 11/25/05 Hi Guys, Love the site!!! <Thanks!> I have a 75 gallon Fish-Only tank.  I've had it set up & running successfully for more than 11 years.  Actually, today is my Clownfish's 11th birthday.   <Congrats on your success!!>   Current inhabitants include 4 fish (I think I can add a couple more): Clownfish, Coral Beauty, Five-Line Wrasse (kind of cool) - http://www.hawaiisfishes.com/fish_of_month/past_fom/fish_3_03.htm & a Sailfin Tang.  I just lost a Tinker's Butterfly that I kept for about 10 years.   <Sorry for your loss.  I agree that you could add a couple more fish, although your light stocking probably has contributed to your success.> My tank is an Oceanic 75 gal/tank, with a Wet/Dry Trickle Filter.  I have had a Prizm skimmer running successfully for a few years.  (Had to toss that in, as I read some poor reviews about them, but with normal maintenance, it runs great). After battling nitrates for many years, I decided to add live rock to my tank.  I have had skeletal rock in there all along, and have decided to jump into the live rock scene.  I bought the rock from a local dealer that I've bought fish from.  I'm gradually going to remove all the bio balls, and just use the wet/dry as a sump.   <Although the longevity of your fish is proof that your system is working well as it is, the addition of live rock will most likely be an improvement and will certainly help your nitrate problem.> Anyways, like many others, I've discovered quite a bit of Aiptasia Anemones on the 90 lbs of Fiji & Ultra Premium Live Rock I put in.  I have been reading your site like a madman, and am considering adding a Raccoon Butterfly to the tank.  I know they have a taste for Aiptasia.  My main question is if the Live Rock will continue to do its job after the Raccoon munches the Aiptasia, or will the Raccoon be destructive to the Live Rock. I know Raccoons aren't generally reef friendly, but are they Live Rock friendly? Thanks again for all your time.  ;-) Bill   <A Raccoon is a great choice for it's hardiness and likelihood to eat the Aiptasia. This butterfly will eat some sessile live rock critters, but this will not have any significant negative impact on the "function" of the rock.  Good luck!  AdamC.>

Raccoon Butterflies and Pest Anemones 1/28/2005 Hello Bob, <Hi Bill, actually Adam J with you this morning.> Awesome Site! :-D <Thank you.> Question on Butterfly's. I'm a wee bit confused on this page: <Okay, I'll see if I can help you out.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/raccoon.htm  I have a Fish Only tank with Live Rock. I'd love to add a Raccoon to 'hopefully' munch glass anemones. Will both the Chaetodon lunula & Chaetodon fasciatus be likely to graze upon them? <From what I have gathered most are about as likely to eat them. Though Chaetodon lunula seems to be the easier to find out of the two and thus it will probably be easier to find a healthier specimen of this species. However I might add that in my experience a lot of folks who employ butterfly to rid themselves of pest anemones tend to be disappointed at times. Often the fish is already spoiled on prepared foods and tend not to be so "hot" on picking these critters out of the rockwork. If you have an abundance of pest anemones it can usually be traced back to overfeeding or a nutrient problem. See here for some more ideas/details: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aip&bfsfaqs.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i3/aiptasia_impressions/aiptaisia_impressions.htm >
Re: Raccoon Butterfly and Pest Anemone Update - It Worked!  11/30/05
Hi FAQ CREW, <Hi Bill.> Just an update. <I like those.> Well, I bit the bullet yesterday and purchased the Red Sea Raccoon. I guess a customer who moved gave him to the dealer to sell. He is about 3-4" in length right now.  <Good size.> I put him in a quarantine tank yesterday with a live rock that had Aiptasia problems. He was picking at it all day long. Not sure if the Aiptasia went into hiding, or if he's picked it clean. I'd say there were at least 15 of those buggers on one piece of rock, and now there is not one to be seen!!! <Wow, sounds great. Be sure to provide a variety of other foods as well but it looks like you got exactly what you were looking for.> Thanks again for all your help! I'll keep you up to date once I add him to the main tank. For now, I think I'll toss more Aiptasia rock in his tank. ;-) <Good luck with him.> Bill <Adam J.>

Aiptasia-Eating Raccoon Butterflies (3/19/05) Hi Folks,  <Hi there. Steve Allen with you tonight.> You have all been so helpful that I thought I should report my results for anyone who may have a similar problem. <Thanks for sharing.>  I have a 300 gallon reef tank that has been going for many years now. I recently had an Aiptasia infestation. Well, plague would be a better word.  <Yikes!>  They were everywhere, including starting to sting my polyp colonies.  <Yes, this is one of their many problems. I have a Blastomussa that was harmed in this way.>  Nothing that I tried worked. Peppermint shrimp did nothing.  <It's definitely frustrating when they don't eat what they're supposed to. It's sort of like trying to get a recalcitrant child to eat healthy food.>  I turned to a Copperband Butterflyfish. I couldn't keep one alive through quarantine... <These are tough fish to keep alive long-term, and some don't have a personal taste for Aiptasia either.> ... so I finally broke down decided it was time to take a risk with a Raccoon.  <Interesting> I got a small one. I kept him in 75-gallon quarantine for 45 days, passing Aiptasia infested rock through to give him a taste.  <Good idea.>  He has been in my 300 for about a month now, and there is not an Aiptasia to be found!  <Congratulations!>  The better news is that he has touched none of my corals, and none of my polyps.  <I hope that this remains true now that the Aiptasia is gone. Keep him well-fed with other things and keep a close eye on your corals. Again, all fishes have their individual variations, so "reef-safe" and other traits are generalizations that may not hold for a given individual.>  I even have two Condylactis Anemones I had taken in as rescues to help out the prior owner, and he hasn't touched those, either. He tells me that the books give his species a bum rap.  Maybe its just blind luck,  <Good fortune is always welcome. Take it when you can get it.> and there are certainly no guarantees or warranties, but this has been my experience.  <Thank goodness for small favors, eh?>  Regards, Dale M.  <Again, thanks for sharing.> 

Chelmon and Aiptasia 1/16/04 Hello Anthony! <howdy> My tank has a lot of Aiptasia (can be about 500 ). <hmmm... you do understand my friend that they have become a plague because of a lack of water flow, lack of adequate skimming or lack of water changes... and/or overfeeding. In some way, you have allowed excess food and nutrients to linger in this aquarium which is a sign of potential problems beyond the nuisance of Aiptasia. Please read through our archives about Aiptasia control> I got a Chelmon 3 weeks ago. It eats frozen blood worms and artemia from my hand and since yesterday it eats Aiptasia as well! I have though noticed that it eats only the small Aiptasia and not the bigger ones. Is it typical for the Chelmon? <yes> Does it have to do with its size? Mine is a 2 1/2 '' long. <unfortunately... the Chelmon is treating the symptom (Aiptasia) and not the problem (Excess nutrients). I fear you will have more troubles down the road my friend... at least a bad algae problem> I have also noticed that it begs the Cleaner Shrimp for cleaning. Is it a sign of parasite ? <not necessarily. I'm hoping you kept the fish in 4+ week quarantine before you added it to your display tank> Last but not least, I have limited the activities of my Yellow tang (1 year in my tank) by placing a transparent glass at a corner of my tank and putting him in there. He has a good water flow but not much space. I did this because he terrorized the Chelmon as soon as I put it in the tank. <this is also common... the Chelmon was a very poor choice for this tank. They usually suffer and die prematurely in community tanks. I am sorry to see it here> I intend to keep him in this place for 3 days and then try again to free him and see what happens. <it will not help, alas> In the meantime the Chelmon is eating Aiptasia with no  fear of the Tang. I had read the Yellow tang is peaceful to all fish but other Tangs, <not true as you have seen...> but I realize that it is terrifying to other fishes, too.  Do you think my method is effective and will reduce his aggressively? <not really... they are aggressive community fishes. Typical behavior> Thanks as always, Your Greek friend, Thanassis <we've been corresponding a long time my friend... some days like this I fear you are not helping yourself to be a responsible aquarist. We must take the time to research the needs of species before we buy them. In this case, any good research on Chelmon and Aiptasia would have guided you away from the purchase and instructed you to take care of the real problem (nutrients). Instead, this beautiful butterflyfish is likely to die one way or another for being kept in an inappropriate community. The partitioning of the tang tells me that you might have ignored many previous advice to get and use a QT tank for isolation of sick or aggressive fishes. I wish you the best... and ask you to be more patient as an aquarist. It will save the lives of these fishes and invertebrates that we all love so much. kindly, Anthony>

Copperband Butterfly (CBB) and Aiptasia 10/8/04 Bob and Anthony, have a quick question, CBB are widely known as one of the better ways to eradicate Aiptasia (I have great water quality, but have a large tank and unfortunately these suckers were in the rock). <hmmm... you do realize that this nuisance organism (Aiptasia) like most any other can only spread to plague proportions if it has an (excess) nutrient source. If you over feed, under skim and/or go weak on water changes... then you will get some nuisance organism to exploit it. Other systems with better control on nutrients and/or nutrient export can have these organisms in residence indefinitely with little or no spread. It is wholly about nutrient control... they don't grow from thin air ;)> I have had my AUS CBB for two months now, but he does not seem to be making a dent in the Aiptasia population. The Aiptasia are green in color, is it possible there are certain types of Aiptasia cbb don't eat, or is it my cbb? <it sounds like you are referring to the pest anemone "Anemonia majano" and not Aiptasia. > I have plenty of room for more fish, should I add another Aus. cbb? <a bad idea for several reasons you might guess> I have used calc, and while it works, they regenerate over time. I have read of people using other butterflies, but I am kind of wary of doing so unless you recommend a particular species. <none for this purpose... at best they are treating the symptom and not the problem> I am housing SPS, zoos and leathers, etc.., I would think the zoos are most prone to damage by butterflies, but most species will wipe out sops as well if given the chance. Thanks as always <do treat the problem my friend (much in he archives about Aiptasia and Anemonia control) and avoid risky fishes like butterflies in this reef. Anthony>

Aiptasia and butterflyfish Hi Folks, I have a massive Aiptasia problem in my 300-gallon tank.  There are too many (and they are too deep in the tank) to inject them all.  I read all of your FAQs, and I've unsuccessfully tried the peppermint shrimp route.  So, I've come to the point where I want to use Butterflyfish to eat them.   << That is what I would try next. >> I have a lot of polyps, and I would prefer to keep them!  I am looking at the Copperband, Longnose, and Raccoons. << Go with the copperband. >>  Would I be safe in saying the Raccoon is the "most likely" to eat polyps and should be the one to avoid?  << Tough to say, but I'll agree, yes Raccoon is last choice. >> As for quarantine, do you think a Copperband and a Longnose would get along in a small QT tank? << I do.  I think they are quite compatible. >> Many thanks for your thoughts, Dale M. <<  Blundell  >>

Copperband & Aiptasia Hi all. <Hi George, MacL here with you today.>  Would like to add a Copperband to my 1-year old 160. <Lovely fish.> My tank has 150+ pounds of live rock that is not stacked against the wall so there is access to all surfaces. <Sounds great.> I can see many amphipods and small brittle stars, Aiptasia too, which is why the desire for a Copperband. Would you expect there to be enough natural prey to sustain a 2-3 inch Copperband or would I have to supplement its diet? <Some Copperbands won't eat Aiptasia and sometimes they will eat any type of anemone just to caution you.> If supplementation is necessary, should that begin from the start or will it need to be a bit hungry to develop an appetite for Aiptasia?  <George you don't mention whether you have other fish in your tank that you are feeding anyway. If you do, I think you'll find the butterfly will eat some of that as well. If not, keep a close eye on him to make sure he's eating Aiptasia and if not then definite supplementation.  Just as a caution you should know that they might possibly eat or nibble on other corals. MacL>Thanks, George

Aiptasia Tip <Hi! Ryan with you today> I currently have a 2 foot tank with 3 fish (Maroon Clown, Firefish Goby and Eibli Angel) the angel being the latest addition into the aquarium. I also have 1 fire shrimp and 1 skunk cleaner shrimp and a turbo snail. I put the Eibli Angel (1" Specimen) into my tank about 5 days ago and till now he has not eaten anything that I have added into the aquarium. I feed Ocean Nutrition Formula 2 Pellet food supplemented with Baby Brine Shrimp. The Maroon and Firefish go wild with the Formula 2 pellets but the Eibli Angel doesn't even take a look. Instead all it does is swim around the tank and in between the live rock nipping at the various algae and pods that are there. I remember having at least 4 red Aiptasia and 1 Green Aiptasia before adding in the Angel and I am certain of this as I was doing research as to how to get rid of them. My tank has been up and running for a while now ~ 1 year and the Aiptasia have been there since I can remember. Well now, there is not a sign of Aiptasia in my tank at all. My Eibli Angel is not appearing skinny at all and I have witnessed it "passing motion" 3 times already in the last 2 days. So from this i conclude that it has eaten my Aiptasia and I'm very happy about this. Yes my tank is small but I will be getting a 5 or 6 footer soon. Not asking for any advice just sharing my experience. <Thank you for sharing.  I will pass this along for others to refer.  Ryan>

Aiptasia, Copperband, No Quarantine? Hi all, my two month old 55 gal tank (only with LR and now some snails) is being overrun by Aiptasia. Was going to go the peppermint shrimp route until they died in transit via FedEx. My LFS (AWESOME) has offered a copperband for a couple weeks to clean them out and then I can return him. I know we are not supposed to be adding non-quarantined fish to the display tank, and past experience proves that theory as valid for me. Should I use the fish without QT?  Do we bend the rules in this case? Do I put the Butterfly right in the tank to go to work on the Aiptasia without a quarantine first? My understanding is that this Butterfly has a pretty specialized diet and is pretty hard to keep to begin with. Quarantining him in a bare tank would seem dangerous for the animal to begin with.  I know your opinion on QT so maybe I am wasting my breath. <You are correct, nothing goes into the main tank without a 4-5 week QT.> He also says the Peppermint Shrimp route is a 50/50 toss since there are two species of Peps and you might get the one that doesn't eat the Aiptasia.  Says the Copperband is the best route. <Not sure about the two species, but the camel back shrimp is oft confused with the peppermint.> This LFS is one of the most highly reputable and respected in my area, so chances are the fish would be in good condition and clean, but one never knows. <Exactly. You might check here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aipfaqs.htm and the links at the top of the page for more on Aiptasia. Don> Any advice? Thanks.

Aiptasia control Dear all,<Hey Peter, Phil Here!> Since upgrading my lighting, I am gradually converting my FO+LR 65 gallon aquarium to a more reefy aquarium. It is lightly stocked with fish, 3 blue-green Chromis, one yellow tang, one purple Dottyback, but before I go further I need to control my Aiptasia, as they are spreading from an initial one to around ten now. Reading your articles and other books it looks quite tough and I'd like to stop it sooner rather than later.<Good plan, my man!> My question is a: would peppermint shrimps fight with my single blood shrimp?  (or any problems with the uninvited hairy looking crab I have, about an inch wide)<Is the crab greenish...?  It might be a Mithrax crab... the good guys.  I don't thing the shrimp would fight in a tank this big.  Just so you know, not all peppermint shrimp eat Aiptasia.  I have one peppermint in each one of my tanks.  So far out of three, two have eaten the Aiptasia.  One does not touch it.  So it may be a hit or miss.> b: Would an appropriate butterfly fish mean I could never have an attractive reef system?  So far I only have star polyp and yellow polyps and would be generally keeping undemanding coral.  The butterfly fishes are very attractive.<Yes they are very attractive, but most rate poorly on the captive care scale.  If you want to go w/ a butterfly try Burgess's Butterflyfish.  It has one of the best ratings.  But I think your tank is stocked to the point that a butterflyfish is out of the question.  Your best bet is to try a Peppermint Shrimp.> Thank you for sharing your knowledge - Peter, England<No problem!! Phil>

FISH that eat Aiptasia Bob, I have a couple of the Aiptasia (not sure how to spell it) in my tank. I used to have about 20 or 30 of them at one time until I introduce some peppermint shrimp. Now I don't have the peppermint shrimp anymore and the Aiptasia has return. I think there is a butterfly fish that would take care of this problem, however I don't want a fish that is overly sensitive. Do you know of any fish? <<You called it, it's the Copper-band Butterfly and probably one of the few if only fish that is a documented Aiptasia eater. There are other fish who will eat this stuff, but it's never a sure thing. Sadly, Copper-bands can be a little touchy and many people lose them after the Aiptasia runs out. You may want to resort to some more peppermint shrimp. You can read up about the Copper-band here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chelmonfaqs.htm >> <<Cheers, J -- >>

the hated Aiptasia Hi Bob, I have a 25 gallon reef tank that is progressively becoming overpopulated with the dreaded Aiptasia. I have tried injecting them with concentrated Kalkwasser but they seem to come back almost as fast as I inject! I already have a Rainford and a clown fish in the tank, as well as various soft corals. Should I risk a copperband? Any ideas about how I can get rid of these pests? Thanks, Clemson University



Yes, if you can get a small, healthy specimen of the Copperband (Chelmon) or a member of the related genus Chelmonops... this is the route I would go.  Do take a look at the Aiptasia piece and FAQs, images, links about Glass Anemones posted on the URL: www.WetWebMedia.com for more. Bob Fenner

Chelmon rostrata

Chelmon marginalis

Copperband butterfly and other pest anenomes? Hey there WWMCrew! <Cheers, Chris! Anthony Calfo here> I've read some of you FAQ's as well as searched others experiences on various discussion boards but I still have unanswered questions regarding copperband butterfly fish inclination toward other pest Anemone species besides Aiptasia. Do you think a copperband would prey on a. majano (aka rock anenomes) and or other types of pest anenomes besides Aiptasia? <hmmm... I don't believe that they will prey on them much or at all> If not, can you recommend any other type of bio control for rock anenomes? <believe it or not... juvenile (kinda reef safe) Emperor Angels have frequently been observed feeding on a. majano!!!> Would a copperband harm xenia? <there is definitely that possibility. Has happened before> Thanks for any advice you could provide. Chris aka sharkdude <keep on rockin in the free world, sharkdude! Anthony>

Copperband Butterfly isn't Eating what it's Supposed to (Aiptasia) Bob, <<Actually, JasonC doing the do while Bob is away diving.>> I've just purchased a Copperband for my reef tank. He's less than 2.5" and constantly searches for food and picks at the rock but he has no interest in the Aiptasia. He's housed in a 36x18x18 tank with LR & LS and has a small Tomato Clown, a Banggai, a Blue Damsel and a Purple Firefish for tank mates. No one is harassing him. There are soft corals and some inverts in the tank. <<ok so far...>> Should he eventually become interested in the Aiptasia or does this disinterest happen occasionally. <<I would think so, sure - how long has it been in there? Probably still adjusting to your system - new surroundings.>> Either way, he's beautiful! <<They are, aren't they.>> What can I feed to supplement the Copperband's diet? <<Try a little of everything you've got - Mysis, brine, etc. Also check the FAQ's on the copper-band: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chelmonfaqs.htm >> Thanks for your time, Tony <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Aiptasia and "stop-Aiptasia" Hi, Jason! <<Hello!>> Thanks for your thoughts on the Aiptasia. <<no problem.>> Re. the butterfly fish... would you think the longnose would be a better choice for my reef, or would you "just say no" to that family altogether? If no to them, do you have a favorite angel which would be a better choice? Thanks again! <<I'm sure there's one in the family that can be trusted. I would recommend that you read through the many butterfly pages on the WetWebMedia site - here's a good place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm  >> Jimr <<Cheers, J -- >>

My spreading Aiptasia, sorry I forgot to send the pics the first time <Yikes, nice pic... and yes, this is them> Thanks very much for the information on Aiptasia. I read through a lot of the articles but it sounds like the maximum size it gets is 2 inches some of mine are 4 inches tall.  <Umm, they do get four inches tall... sometimes more... in the wild and in aquariums.> I am sending some pics along hoping you can tell me for sure what it is that I have. I also read what you recommend to get rid of them. At one time I had a pair of Peppermint shrimp and one day I saw my sixline eating one and the other was never seen again. <Perhaps "turn about is fair play"> I'll give you a quick description of what's in my tank in hopes you can tell me what best I need to rid this problem. Several snails, hermit crabs, a cleaner shrimp, clams, purple tang, six line wrasse, purple firefish, long nose hawk, Catalina, cardinals, goby, sally light foots and some emeralds, and a couple of others, the SPS corals are the highlight. My tank is a 150 gallon with all the extras, skimmer, calcium reactor and so on. If you wouldn't mind pointing me in the right direction as far as type of predator and quantity to rid my tank of this problem I would be forever grateful. I also wanted to thank you for the great service you do, you site has helped me a lot in my saltwater adventures, thanks in advance, Bill <Ah, glad to hear, read... I would try the Peppermint Shrimp and/or Berghia nudibranch here... for a couple of months... and possible a Chelmon butterflyfish if it will fit... As you have so many pest anemones now... mechanical removal, poisoning are not options. Bob Fenner>

Fish (Copperbands) compatibility  Sorry Bob, just one more question, then I leave you :-) <Okay> I?m having a outbreak of Aiptasia ( blargh ) ? I?m thinking adding a Copperband fish? I read that he likes eating oysters and such? will be eating my softies and Tridacnas ? What about my shrimps ? <Almost always Chelmons and Chelmonops leave Soft Corals and Tridacnids alone... Bob Fenner> Thank you Proenca

Aiptasia, Butterflyfish Predators Oh, another thing I just discovered is that i think I might have Aiptasia, they look like the pictures but mine are more red-ish brown. My wife thinks there cool, will they cause any trouble in a fish only with live rock environment?  <Only if they become too numerous... you will see this happening soon, if so...> and if they will, will the Bannerfish or Angel keep them under control? thanks a lot <These two won't touch Aiptasia, or other pest anemones. Bob Fenner>

Re: Aiptasia, Butterflyfish Predators what other fish would be a good one to get to help control these? I see you suggest a Copperbanded on the website, but I had always heard these where incredibly hard to keep. Also I guess I would need a fish that would eat other stuff for when it has taken care of the Aiptasia problem. <About all my suggestions for bio-controls of Glass Anemones are posted on the WWM site...> Also do you have a suggestion for different angel that I could get in replacement for the Imperator since I doubt I will get a bigger tank for a couple years? (possibly a Queen, Passer, or Majestic) <Look at the Dwarf genera, Centropyge, Genicanthus... as listed where?> Thank you so much for spending the time to answer my questions. <It's all I've got... Bob Fenner>

Aiptasia! Hi Bob, I read all the info about Aiptasia, and how to control them, but I'm afraid of the outcome. I was thinking either copperband or nudibranch, but I'm afraid they will attack my corals also, I have SPS, hard, and soft, polyps, mushroom, and sponges.  <Please don't worry... the organisms mentioned very rarely harm soft, hard corals... also, consider the "null hypothesis" (the "cost" of doing nothing)... with profusion of the Aiptasia, your other life will be much more bothered...> I tried to introduced the true peppermint twice, but all 4 seems to perish, I'm assuming it was the boxer shrimp that are responsible,  <Yes, this happens.> at one time even the yellow tang was trying to attack them so I tapped on the window so he would stop. Boy never seen this pest reproduce so quickly. I tied the injection route, and even pulling them out of their hole that a chunk of rock was removed, but still no luck! Now I'm also seeing them on the side view of my tank. Tried to raise Elegance so I could sting them, but can keep that guy alive. My LFS tried to sell me this liquid to stop Aiptasia, nooo, not me I know that stuff is not safe for reef.  <You are wise here my friend> Does this sound like it is the end of alternative for me? Thank you! and I hope I'm not being an Aiptasia (pest) to you! <Hah! No worries. Do try the "Emperor's Daughter" (another name for Chelmon), or Berghia... you will soon be rid of Glass Anemones (but not me!), Bob Fenner>

HELP!!!!!! AIPTASIA!!!!!! please reply if able hello Mr. Fenner!! i have a few questions i hope you can help me with. first of all i am very glad i found this site! second, those damn Aiptasia anemones!!!! i have a 125 Berlin system that was just perfect until i put a few pieces of new rock in my tank then WAM!!! Aiptasias! i have tried injecting with calcium, hot water .i even put 4 peppermint shrimp in there, and the more i try to destroy the more that show up. I am very worried about my tank , that was once so beautiful, that is now starting to be a living hell. I have herd of people of using copper injection and such, but that is just too risky for me. i have also herd of people throwing their rock out. I cant afford that at all. I was thinking of adding about 7-10 more peppermint shrimp ,i think this would be the safest way. I think) that is why i am asking you for your professional help. <Instead of making your dealer wealthy buying a bunch more Lysmata shrimp, look into an Aiptasia-eating Butterflyfish. Specifically, if it will go in your system, a Chelmon species (Copperband)... If this fish can't be accommodated, let me know, and we'll go down the list> my last question is how many times a week should i be feeding my tank? I always get different answers on this. my tank consists of the following,2 inch live sand bed,225pounds of Fiji live rock from flying fish express.1 inch and a half perc clown with a huge 18 inch across saddle anemone, a 3 inch purple tang, a 1 and a half inch royal Gramma, 1 serpent star, 1 sand star, and about 10 red leg crabs and 10 blue leg crabs, plus astrea snails. sorry this is so long ,well take care ,if you don't have time to reply i will understand, i will try to figure something out. <Rather than an arithmetic rule, the appearance (index of fitness... fullness) and behavior (index of eagerness?) ought to be your guide here... but by and large, two small feedings a day should do it. Bob Fenner>

The two listed below in laymen terms are the copperband bitterly and ?. I need to know so I can pursue getting one. What is the most effective choice if I have many SPS, soft corals, mushrooms and other invertebrates. Your help has been greatly appreciated. Bryan S. >> Hmm, the best route I can think of is to send you to a fabulous tool called fishbase: http://www.cgiar.org/iclarm/fishbase/search.cfm Key this URL in your address bar and go there... key in the Genera (Chelmonops...) and take a look at the species, pictures, et al. listed there for each species. You will probably have to use the scientific names for ordering these fishes... Bob Fenner > << I have been on a mission. I am have a serious problem with Aiptasia > anemones. I have tried everything. I am considering Aiptasia away. I  haven't tried copperband butterflies because of the many SPS, and other corals I have in the tank. I have about 20 peppermint shrimp and they just don't seem to be getting the job done. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I am in despite need they are starting to sting my SPS colonies. > Bryan >> > Do try a Chelmon rostrata or a genus Chelmonops butterfly.... the vast majority of these leave stony corals alone. > Bob Fenner whose Aiptasia article and FAQs on these distasteful glass anemones is stored at www.wetwebmedia.com

Thank you for your response. My 70 gallon reef tank has the following livestock: 2 firetail gobies, a flame angel, 2 open brains, an elegance coral, a plate coral, a bubble coral, feather dusters, polyps, mushrooms, a moonstone, candy cane coral, and one cleaner shrimp. I use 6 power heads and a hot 1 skimmer, the live rock, and a Whisper carbon cartridge mechanical filter. I have one 175 watt metal halide and two 45 watt compact fluorescents. I run all the lights 6 hours with 2 hours on each side with the actinics only. Any suggestions for my tank and the glass anenomes would be appreciated. Thank you, Joe Keller  < Joe, I would try adding a 3-5 inch Chelmon rostrata (Copperband Butterflyfish) to this system, if you can find an initially healthy specimen. Your Aiptasia will soon be a memory. Bob Fenner>

Butterflyfishes for  Marine Aquariums
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